Thursday, November 1, 2012

Transvestite at Her Birthday Party, N.Y.C. 1969

(after Teresias, no longer ancient but now female to stay)

". . . a thing is not seen because it is visible, but conversely, visible because it is seen . . ."

–underlined by Diane Arbus in her 1928 Modern Library Works of Plato, page 46

Who casts a shadow in New York City
but the rich, the bigots, racists, and cheats
who chase after the dollar like greyhounds?
In dark corridors of run-down hotels
disreputable outcasts assemble
for birthdays, laughter without shedding tears.
They room where no one else would rent or lie
down on a stained mattress with a lover
no one casting the shadow would let live
if money could, as it does, kill, but no
need to murder the freaks, the dykes, the male
whores no one pays but other whores. Let them
suffer and choke on the ills they deserve.
So say the unfortunate souls shriveled
to sleep in high-rise skyscrapers, cloud crypts.
Diane goes where she’s yet to meet the damned.
She looks for what she’s never seen before.
Tonight the transvestite with missing tooth
lolls, looks toward the door after Diane’s sat
a while, a good while, a good long while, long
as words relate biographies long shunned,
denigrated, relegated to shame-
shadows, until she asks Diane to shoot
a buncha pitchers of my pals and me.
Diane tells her, I was born out of sight
of all of you and not even Plato
knew all that could be visible if seen.
This woman born half a man and now whole
smiles up at lovers, sisters, kindred souls
off-frame. Her birthday cake rests on the bed,
a balloon next to the nude calendar,
one above that naked girl next to the closet,
two on the wall over the bed. She languishes
in her slip, shod with mules, clasping two hands
like sheltering a Communion wafer.

(1 November 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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